USA — DoD Not Hiding Fort Hood Shooting Details, Gates Says

BRIDGETOWN, Bar­ba­dos, April 16, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates today dis­put­ed claims that the Defense Depart­ment was with­hold­ing infor­ma­tion from the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty Com­mit­tee about the Nov. 5 Fort Hood, Texas, shoot­ing inci­dent.

“We have no inter­est in hid­ing any­thing,” said Gates, who ear­li­er this week had trav­eled to Peru, Colom­bia and then Bar­ba­dos to dis­cuss region­al secu­ri­ty issues.

“But what [is] most impor­tant,” Gates told reporters here, “is this pros­e­cu­tion, and we will coop­er­ate with the com­mit­tee in every way with that sin­gle caveat — that what­ev­er we pro­vide does not impact the pros­e­cu­tion. That is the only thing in which we have an inter­est.”

“Our pri­or­i­ty is in ensur­ing we don’t do any­thing that would poten­tial­ly impact the pros­e­cu­tion of Major [Nidal] Hasan,” Gates said, refer­ring to the alleged shoot­er. Gates said the Defense Depart­ment is imple­ment­ing changes to help pre­vent anoth­er attack like the one at Fort Hood, but he cau­tioned that such crimes can­not be com­plete­ly pre­vent­ed.

“One would be fool­ish” to say a sim­i­lar inci­dent could nev­er hap­pen again, he said, but not­ed steps are being tak­en to help reduce the like­li­hood.

“Clear­ly one ele­ment of that is bet­ter shar­ing and infor­ma­tion from post to post and com­man­der to com­man­der,” he said.

Gates this week direct­ed the Defense Depart­ment to imple­ment 26 inter­im rec­om­men­da­tions of an inde­pen­dent pan­el he appoint­ed to look into events sur­round­ing the shoot­ing. Hasan, an Army offi­cer, has been charged with 13 counts of mur­der and 32 counts of attempt­ed mur­der.

The pan­el detailed 79 rec­om­men­da­tions to improve force pro­tec­tion and tight­en gaps in per­son­nel poli­cies, emer­gency response, mass casu­al­ty pre­pared­ness and sup­port to Defense Depart­ment health care providers.

The sec­re­tary approved the 26 rec­om­men­da­tions in their entire­ty while work con­tin­ues on the oth­er 53 rec­om­men­da­tions. The panel’s full report is expect­ed to be released in June. Gates cred­it­ed the depart­ment and the ser­vices for “step­ping up” in the after­math of the shoot­ings and mak­ing changes that could pre­vent sim­i­lar future inci­dents.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)